Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Winter in Maine is a time for reflection; to reflect on what we have, what we want, what we have accomplished and what still needs to be done.
We started a list about 6 years ago of short and long term goals, dreams and desires. Some of the things are simple, “fix truck,” while others are a bit more difficult, “eat only what we grow” and “learn French.” But each year more and more gets crossed off our list, and some new things get added on as we learn what we desire out of this life.
Looking back over the past year we are finally starting to feel as though things are coming together. Sure we have had our failures (many) - we tried raising pigs without an adequate yard for them and spent more time chasing pigs than feeding them, and that was in the winter. Not one of our smarter ideas. We also tried Guinea fowl; their constant squawking drove us crazy. Horses were another thing that didn’t work out for us, hundreds of dollars later.
But we don’t look at these things as failures; we look at them as lessons. How can we figure out what really works for us if we don’t know what doesn’t?
Each year we become a bit more independent. One of our goals is to eliminate the use of propane completely and this past year we have gotten a lot closer to that goal, in fact right now we are not using any propane at all and shouldn’t have to until summer when we turn on our refrigerator (read more at http://homesteadinginmaine.blogspot.com/2009/11/wood-fired-water-heater.html and http://homesteadinginmaine.blogspot.com/2009/10/free-cold-weather-refrigeration.html).
We are also learning about wild foods and began eating more of our lawn and mowing less of it. Luckily for us we have a lot of great edibles in our lawn and are finding more all the time. Foraging New England: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Wild Foods and Medicinal Plants from Maine to Connecticut
But it goes beyond all that, the biggest challenge for me is learning to relax more and not get so worked up about things (actually my husband is improving on the “worked up” part as well). We are taking some time for us and I am not worrying about our List of Things to be Done; it’s pretty sad when you have to add “relax” to your “to do” list.
We will try raising pigs again, but not until we are better equipped for them. I would like to use them as little rototillers for the garden. One of my favorite phrases has become “let the animals do the work” and you know what, it works! Cows graze and clear land for us and the chickens keep the bug population down while scratching and fertilizing. I think pigs will be a great help to us as well.
Oh, there is so much more that has to be done, we need a barn, a work shop and larger gardens but for now I am only going to enjoy what has been done and be thankful for all we do have.
Now if only I could get the cats to feed the chickens in the mornings…..